Scientific Discoveries Abound
It’s not always exciting, sitting at a computer screen, mining 568 medical charts for data. But knowing that your work might help at-risk infants? That’s a thrill that Ben Rosenfeld ’12 knows well. Rosenfeld, a biology major, was one of the more than a dozen presenters at the 2012 Biology Student Research Symposium. The 12th-annual event provided a platform for biology, neuroscience and biochemistry & molecular biology majors to share discoveries spanning a wide range of topics, from cancer to disease resistance in tomatoes and amphibians to the control of orthodontic tooth movement.
Rosenfeld’s team investigated whether ultrasounds can be used to diagnose a host of neurodevelopmental problems commonly found in newborns with a birth weight of 3 pounds or less. [Story continues below.]
Currently, newborns with a very low birth weight typically receive MRI scans while in the neonatal intensive-care unit. “It’s significant [research] because ultrasounds are cheaper, easier and less invasive; you can bring them to the bedside,” he said, adding that the next step is to track the tiny patients’ progress.
Catherine Campbell ’12 and Natalie Stanley ’13 co-presented National Science Foundation-funded research on the possible role of the nuclear-receptor transcription family in the progression of leukemia. Campbell, a double major in biology and biochemistry & molecular biology, and Stanley, a mathematics major, used algorithms to detect patterns and group genes with similar profile expressions.
Elaine Herbig ’12 investigated the effects of climate change on frogs’ ability to ward off infection—research she had previously co-presented to 2,400 researchers at an international conference. “Before working on this project, I thought that research meant sitting in a lab all day—that it would be boring,” she said with a laugh. “Now, I know that it’s not like that; you learn to think for yourself, develop questions and run with them. It’s something that every student should do.”
By MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Photos by Carl Socolow '77